Food group met again and the theme this time was Ottolenghi, or maybe more loosely Middle Eastern food. I chose mezzes which are appetizers more or less. I do like Ottolenghi (if you don’t know who I am talking about you can look here and clearly you are not a friend of Sharon’s because he’s pretty much all she talks about). Anyway, I settled on swiss chard stuffed peppers. This is not something that appeals to me very much but it’s, you know, Ottolenghi!!! so it was gonna be ok with Sharon no matter what.

I dunno, this was a case of the sum equalling more than its parts. They were delicious. And pretty.

Recipe below

Baby peppers stuffed with chard and mozzarella

Bags of mixed baby peppers, 5-6cm long and in red, yellow and orange, are available from most supermarkets (they’re sometimes labelled “chiquino”). They vary in size, so use more or less of the filling as required. Serves four to six.

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large bunch swiss chard, trimmed, stalks and leaves finely sliced
Salt and black pepper
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 mild red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
2 tsp dried oregano
30g pine nuts, lightly toasted and roughly chopped
50g pecorino romano, finely grated
80g mozzarella block, roughly grated
500g mixed baby peppers (ie, about 20 baby peppers)

Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas mark 6. Heat the oil in a large saute pan on a medium-high flame, then fry the chard, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and a generous grind of pepper for 15 minutes, stirring often, until the stalks are soft and starting to brown. Add the garlic, chilli and oregano, fry for another minute, then take off the heat. Leave to cool, then stir in the pine nuts and both cheeses.

Cut out a little V from the stalk of each pepper down almost to the base (reserve the bits of flesh for soup or salad), then scoop out and discard the seeds. Fill the peppers with the chard mix (you’ll need about 20g in each), then lay them cut side up on an oven tray lined with greaseproof paper. Roast for 18-20 minutes, until the peppers are soft and caramelized, then leave to cool for 10 minutes and serve warm (if you want to get ahead, they are also good at room temperature).

Hoppin’ John

This is traditional New Years Day food somewhere. Not here in Milwaukee, although that’s where I first had it, but somewhere, I dunno. I’m sure there’s an answer on the google but I’m so tired of looking there I just don’t care.

It’s eaten for luck in the coming year and Jesus do we need it. I did google for a recipe and got approximately 476 versions of it none of which were similar or what I wanted. What I wanted was something simple, it’s freaking simple dish. Like people-who-live-in-shacks-in-swamps-on stilts-with-‘gators-waiting-below simple but it seems that everyone who is expert enough to get their sites to come up on the first or second Google page has had to come up with their own highly complicated version of it. The beans go into a pot with the pork hock and when the pork hock is falling apart add the rice. The rice should be added to the pot and cooked right in the same liquid everything else was cooked in.

I used black eyed peas my eyes almost rolled out of my head with people (I’m looking at you Martha) insisting you need to use not black eyed peas but fuckin’ red cow peas or some damn thing. I am so goddam sure. Anyway to that simple start I added celery, onions and a tablespoon of Cajun seasoning. Then I got a little fancy because I used basmati rice, it was all I had, and really it needs short grained rice. But we survived.

I made this for the BOELDT, Benevolent Order of the Ever Loyal and Dedicated Tastebuds for a zoom dinner we had. Quay’rn even had leftovers for breakfast. Talk about lucky.

It was so good
Photo used without permission

The Beneficent Order of the Ever Loyal and Dedicated Tastebuds

BOELDT for short, had an abbreviated COVID Zoom meeting and tasting yesterday called to order by our illustrious leader Caryn. Her idea was all appetizers and that suits me just fine. I’m sure my fellow BOELDTers are looking up recipes from exotic cookbooks and websites (we have no formal rules defining what we make, as such) but my personal theme was leftovers. I made leftover BBQ pork hand pies, an assortment of little leftover cheese tartlets, and some thing I calling mac n chuffins. Isn’t that adorable? Leftover mac and cheese baked into mini-muffin shapes. While the name may be nauseating I assure you that they were delicious.

This is my offering, the thing at the right is the handpie with a splash of BBQ on it.